Gladiator Magazine Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award Eddie Goldman: The Conscience of Combat Sports
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- Gladiator Magazine, Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award, Eddie Goldman, Conscience, Combat Sports
Written by Todd Hester
Sunday, 15 March 2009 03:14
Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award
Eddie Goldman: The Conscience of Combat Sports
Not only has Eddie Goldman been covering combat sports since the early 1990s, he has done it with honesty and candor, calling it like it is and never sparing the truth. It's one thing to write about mixed martial arts and the other combat sports, but it is quite another thing to be honest and yet fair at the same time, documenting your coverage and making sure that what you said was the truth, nothing more and nothing less. In a sport where a premium is placed on hype and objective opinions often are driven by a desire to curry favor with the powers that be, Eddie Goldman has been breath of fresh air for almost the past 20 years.
An advocate for the combat sports based on his philosophical viewpoint that the warrior culture is a noble calling that has the power to transform lives, Goldman has somehow managed to provide expert commentary not just on mixed martial arts but also boxing, college and Olympic wrestling, and many other endeavors that stretch its participants to their ultimate capacity.
But for all his speaking on behalf of others, sometimes the real Eddie Goldman himself gets lost in the mix as do many who spend their time observing, analyzing and advocating. So it is with great pleasure that Gladiator Magazine is proud to present its first Lifetime Journalism Achievement Award to Eddie Goldman for his work promoting all the combat sports.
A standout in mathematics in high school in Lynbrook, New York, where he also wrestled and developed a lifelong passion for the sport, Goldman was admitted to the prestigious Columbia University where he promptly took one math class, lost interest, and immediately switched to philosophy and then history. While at Columbia, he became involved heavily in the protest politics of the late '60s and early '70s.
"I had a sense of standing up for social justice and fighting injustice," says Goldman. "When I saw that something was obviously wrong, I always felt an obligation to speak up and to work towards correcting it. I never felt that I should keep quiet just because that might be the easy way out."
After graduation, Goldman refused to become a "corporate drone" and started looking around for something to do that would inspire passion in him. He found it initially in the world of pro wrestling, where, according to Goldman, "the sport was more playful and fun and not so much focused on negativity." Even then, he began to cover real wrestling on the college and international levels. After covering pro wrestling for just a few years, however, Goldman stopped because that business seemed impossible to reform.
Also around that time, he caught wind of a new sport called no-holds-barred fighting that was put out by new organizations called the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Battlecade Extreme Fighting. While at a New York radio station, he conducted on-air interviews with Royce Gracie, Manny Yarbrough, and Art Davie right before UFC 3 in 1994.
"To me it seemed to serve a similar role as pro-wrestling, except it was real," says Goldman. "I'd always had a real interest in combat sports, and I dropped my coverage of pro-wrestling. By 1995 I went full force covering this new competition which I felt would one day change the face of combat sports."
Goldman had no sooner started covering the sport than politicians such as Senator John McCain from Arizona started putting pressure on cable companies to ban it. It was so bad that at a show in the Mohawk community of Kanhawake near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, eight people were arrested as participants, including the ring announcer. Goldman fearlessly, despite the pressure on him to go against the sport, instead wrote an article on the event which was published in Penthouse Magazine, which went a long ways towards exposing the bias against MMA. He was also covering the UFC show that was supposed to be held in upstate New York, but was then moved to Dothan, Alabama, at the last minute when the politicians in New York threatened to arrest everyone if they held the event.
Banned off cable TV and hemorrhaging money at the end of 2000, Bob Meyrowitz, the CEO of the UFC, started looking for a buyer and found one in Las Vegas casino owners Frank III and Lorenzo Fertitta. Meyrowitz, ever the innovator, had already started a groundbreaking Internet radio network in 1999 called eYada.com and invited Goldman to host a weekly show about MMA, boxing, and wrestling, called "No Holds Barred." The show was a huge hit and consistently ranked in the top two or three of all eYada.com's shows, drawing tens of thousands of listeners each week. The network, however, had financial difficulties and was unsuccessful in attracting sponsors. It closed after just two years.
Goldman, however, didn't stop pursuing his passion, and started writing heavily for magazines. He was also named editor of the Internet boxing site BoxingRanks.com, and was an organizer of its Boxing Writers' Rankings poll. However, he still wanted to build a platform in a radio-style format and so decided to resurrect "No Holds Barred" as a podcast (a downloadable show that can be played on MP3 players), and started up again only two years ago. He also launched a weekly boxing Internet radio show called "SecondsOut Radio" and was in HBO's "The Smashing Machine."
Although "No Holds Barred" still does touch on MMA and will occasionally have excellent insights into cagefighting, Goldman also discusses boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and even flat-track roller derby, a grassroots women's sport that is sweeping the country. He is producing it twice a week on average and on any given show, you'll hear an eclectic and lively mix of guests, topics, interviews, and observations. The same wit and candor that made the original show an Internet hit is still there in spades, and Goldman's audience is once again growing as word is getting out that he is back in the game.
Although Goldman freely admits that his audience could be a lot bigger if he pandered to the UFC, he refuses to abandon his principles just to make a buck, and soldiers on with less money and more self-respect.
"The breaking point for me came when I saw how MMA was being turned into the WWE," says Goldman. "The sport used to be about different styles of fighting and people proving how that helped to teach discipline and self-respect. It had a message. Now the only message coming out of Las Vegas seems to be the beatdown. To me the entire thing seems to be promoting anti-social values. I still like the smaller shows, which have managed to keep that original spirit alive, but I find that boxing and real wrestling are more genuine. I still have hopes for the sport, but I also have serious reservations about where it is going."
Goldman plans to keep producing "No Holds Barred" and looking for worthy topics to talk about and to interview. As he does that, he continually discovers hidden gems such as roller derby, works to promote boxing and wrestling, and also selected MMA events.
"There are certain shows that I do like," says Goldman. "I had big hopes for the IFL but they just couldn't get their act together and break the mold. EliteXC also seemed to have a good shot but they again fell into the trap of extreme hype and now seem to be on shaky ground. Maybe one of the well-run shows such as King of the Cage or Strikeforce will step up and fill that void for a show that means something. Until then, I'm going to keep telling it like it is and pursuing the truth, wherever it takes me."
To listen to No-Holds-Barred with Eddie Goldman go to www.eddiegoldman.com. Eddie Goldman can be contacted directly at nhbnews AT gmail DOT com.
- 2014-12-26 07:34:44.467827